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ECommerce 101 - Getting Started

Published on 6/22/2010 by

Why Sell Online?

With access to global markets and all kinds of features and tools available for ecommerce websites, customers find it quick, easy, convenient, and enjoyable to purchase what they need and want online.

An ecommerce business can be anywhere, and products don’t need to be displayed in high rent districts on prime street locations. Owners don’t even have to own a store. The overhead costs are less, the staff needed is less, operating costs are lower, the store is available 24/7, all time zones are honored, easy to expand, can handle huge amounts of fill orders, update product catalogs easily and the list goes on.

How Do I Get Started?

Some website hosting providers offer special hosting plans for Ecommerce users or you can purchase products from various companies. Choosing an ecommerce service, the following will be done for you:

  • Register your domain name
  • Build your website
  • Host your website
  • Set up payment gateway
  • Set up credit card processing
  • Open merchant account
  • Work on marketing, social media
  • Email lists

Always make sure you look for a well-known hosting provider with a first rate reputation for support and consider the following criteria as extremely important:

  • Your site must be available at all times; uptime/downtime
  • You want to be sure your delivery speed is fast as your rivals. Customers are less likely to return if your web pages are slow to display.
  • Technical support has to be available 24/7.
  • The company must offer SSL certificate to provide security to your customers for shopping cart/payment processing. It must be simple and easy to add a shopping cart.
  • Expect your company to grow, and ensure there is an upgrade path. If you see your page loading speed getting slower, extra resources should be allocated to your website.
  • Make sure you have supplementary functions which should include email functionality, backups, virus protection, hacker and malware protection.

Depending on your budget, your skills, or how new you are to ecommerce, you can choose being hosted by an external company where you try out online trading without any setup costs hosted on servers of software vendors. If you do decide to use a website hosting company, do your due diligence because changing once you are up and running can be a major mess.

If you go custom, you get the system you want with all the features, and you do not have to pay for functionality or irrelevant upgrades, though obviously the initial startup costs are higher.

Off the shelf systems include many free packages; installation, set-up, customization are still needed, but you don’t pay anyone since all are proven existing solutions and adapted to provide you with the features you want.